Bucs shake up development staff for '22

January 12th, 2022

The Pirates announced their Minor League development staff on Wednesday, and it came loaded with changes to titles and personnel.

General manager Ben Cherington has spoken at length about challenging assumptions and being willing to think outside the box when it comes to player development, and the shuffling of staff ahead of the 2022 Minor League season points to some structural changes related to those philosophies.

Here are a few announcements of note in a long list of reassignments, new positions and hirings.

• Under director of coaching and player development John Baker, Michael Chernow (assistant director of coaching and player development) and Shawn Johnston (coordinator of project management) remain as two of the top leaders in the department, though with slightly altered titles from last season.

However, a new high-ranked coordinator was promoted in Julio Sepulveda. A graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Sepulveda will be the coordinator of coaching and player development after serving as an international development fellow most recently in his three-year tenure with the club.

• Dewey Robinson, a well-respected and long-tenured development figure, has joined the organization as a special advisor to pitching development. Robinson spent more than a decade each with the White Sox and Astros before his most recent job as director of pitching development for the Rays.

• Two managers moved up a level for the 2022 season. Kieran Mattison, who led Pirates’ Staff of the Year at High-A Greensboro last year, was promoted to skipper of Double-A Altoona. The Curve’s manager last season, Miguel Perez, was pushed up to Triple-A Indianapolis in the same role.

To replace Mattison at High-A, Pittsburgh hired Callix Crabbe, a former MLB second baseman who last served as assistant hitting coach for the Rangers. The lone Minor League manager to hold his spot for a second consecutive year was Low-A Marauders skipper Johnathan Johnston, who led his team to a Low-A Southeast title over the Yankees’ Tampa Tarpons.

• The Pirates made official the hiring of Caitlyn Callahan as a development coach. She is the first female coach in the history of the organization, per the news release on Wednesday.

• Pittsburgh made a couple of interesting hires out of amateur baseball complexes, including a former No. 3 overall pick in Eric Munson.

Munson, who had a nine-year Major League career, was hired as Indianapolis’ hitting coach after spending eight years running Gold Standard Athletics, an indoor baseball training facility in Dubuque, Iowa.

Quentin Brown, the new Florida Complex League hitting coach, was also hired from a baseball facility. Brown most recently served as vice president of Finch Creek Fieldhouse, a multimillion-dollar indoor facility in Noblesville, Ind., just outside of Indianapolis. He served seven years as a high school coach in Indiana.

• Every Minor League team will have a new coaching position in 2022: An integrated baseball performance coach. The new job reflects the Pirates’ interest in interdepartmental collaboration to make sure all aspects of a prospect’s development and performance are being addressed properly.

The coaches for the 2022 season will be Brady Conlan (Triple-A), Blake Butler (Double-A), Justin Orton (High-A) and Casey Harms (Low-A).

• Baker, a former Major League catcher, hired a roving catching instructor with whom he has strong ties. Chad Noble was tabbed for the position after serving as the Cubs’ bullpen catcher from 2014-21, which overlaps with the time that Baker spent either playing or coaching in Chicago from 2014-20.

And there are many more positions on Pittsburgh's development staff beyond these. To see the full list, click here.